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reparation for past injuries, and the only favour he could do him, to rescue him from the ignominy of the wheel by stabbing him. As he is going to make this dreadful request, he is not able to communicate it; but withdraws his face from his friend's ear, and bursts into tears. The melancholy silence that follows hereupon, and continues until he has recovered himself enough to reveal his mind to his friend, raises in the spectators a grief that is inexpressible, and an idea of such a complicated distress in the actor, as words cannot utter. It would look as ridiculous to many readers, to give rules and directions for proper silences, as for " penning a whisper:' but it is certain, that in the extremity of most passions, particularly surprise, admiration, astonishment, nay, rage itself, there is nothing more graceful than to see the play stand still for a few moments, and the audience fixed in an agreeable suspense, during the silence of a skilful actor.
But silence never shows itself to so great an advantage, as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation, provided that we give no just occasion for them. We might produce an example of it in the behaviour of one, in whom it appeared in all its majesty, and one, whose silence, as well as his person, was altogether divine. When one considers this subject only in its sublimity, this great instance could not but occur to me; and since I only make use of it to show the highest example it, I hope I do not offend in it. To forbear replying to an unjust reproach, and overlook it with a generous, or, if possible, with an entire neglect of it, is one of the most heroic acts of a great mind: and, I must confess, when I reflect upon the behaviour of some of the greatest men in antiquity, I do not so much admire them, that they deserved the praise of the whole age they lived in, as because they contemned the envy and detraction of it.
I must not close my discourse upon silence without informing my reader, that I have by me an elaborate treatise on the aposiopesis called an et cætera; it being a figure much used by some learned authors, and particularly by the great Littleton, who, as my lord chief justice Coke observes, had a most admirable talent at an &c.
To oblige the pretty fellows, and my fair readers, I have thought fit to insert the whole passage above-mentioned relating to Dido, as it is translated by Mr. Dryden.*
Not far from thence, the mournful fields appear;
All that is incumbent on a man of worth, who suffers under so ill a treatment, is to lie by for some time in silence and obscurity, until the prejudice of the times be over, and his reputation cleared. I have often read, with a great deal of pleasure, a legacy of the famous lord Bacon, one of the greatest geniuses that our own or any country has produced. After having bequeathed his soul, body, and estate, No. 134.] Thursday, February 16, 1709. in the usual form, he adds, My name and memory I leave to foreign nations, and to my countrymen after some time be passed over.'
At the same time, that I recommend this philosophy to others, I must confess, I am so poor a proficient in it myself, that if in the course of my lucubrations it happens, as it has done more than once, that my paper is duller than in conscience it ought to be, I think the time an age until I have an opportunity of putting out another, and growing famous again for two days.
Quis talia fando
Sheer-lane, February 15.
I WAS awakened very early this morning by the distant crowing of a cock, which I thought
Eneid, book vi, 46.
had the finest pipe I ever heard. He seemed
I thought what this gentleman said was very reasonable; and have often wondered, that we do not lay aside a custom, which makes us appear barbarous to nations much more rude and unpolished than ourselves. Some French writers have represented this diversion of the common people much to our disadvantage, and imputed it to natural fierceness and cruelty of temper; as they do some other entertainments peculiar to our nation: I mean those elegant diversions of bull-bating and prize-fighting, with the like ingenious recreations of the Bear-garden. I wish I knew how to answer this reproach which is cast upon us, and excuse the death of so many innocent cocks, bulls, dogs, and bears, as have been set together by the ears, or died untimely deaths,
'To Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire, Censor of
The humble petition of Job Chanticleer, in
From my Coop in Clare-market,
That whereas your petitioner is truly de-
And your petitioner, &c.'
Upon delivery of this petition, the worthy gentleman, who presented it, told me the customs of many wise nations of the east, through which he had travelled; that nothing was more
frequent than to see a dervise lay out a whole year's income in the redemption of larks or linnets that had unhappily fallen into the hands of bird-catchers; that it was also usual to run between a dog and a bull to keep them from hurting one another, or to lose the use of a limb in parting a couple of furious mastiffs. He then insisted upon the ingratitude and disingenuity of treating in this manner a neces
*The original date of this paper is From Tuesday Feb. 14, to Thurday Feb. 16, 1700.'
It will be said, that these are the entertainments of common people. It is true; but they are the entertainments of no other common people. Besides, I am afraid, there is a tincture of the same savage spirit in the diversions of those of higher rank, and more refined relish. Rapin observes, that the English theatre very much delights in bloodshed, which he likewise represents as an indication of our ten. pers. I must own, there is something very horrid in the public executions of an English tragedy. Stabbing and poisoning, which are performed behind the scenes in other nations, must be done openly among us, to gratify the audience.
When poor Sandford was upon the stage, I have seen him groaning upon a wheel, stuck
+ The word Turk, is used here to signify a savage, or a barbarian; but in the language of Turkey it means a shepherd or herdsman
↑ Sandford was an excellent actor in disagreeable charac. ters; he had a low and crooked person, and such bodily defects as were too strong to be admitted into great or amiable characters, so that he was the stage-villain, not by choice, but from necessity.
note in Greece, and Cicero, Seneca, with all the learned men of Rome, endeavoured to enlighten their contemporaries amidst the darkness and ignorance in which the world was then sunk and buried.
with daggers, impaled alive, calling his execu- | his disciples, as well as all the philosophers of tioners, with a dying voice, cruel dogs and villains! and all this to please his judicious spectators, who were wonderfully delighted with seeing a man in torment so well acted. The truth of it is, the politeness of our English stage, in regard to decorum, is very extraordinary. We act murders, to show our intrepidity; and adulteries, to show our gallantry: both of them are frequent in our most taking plays, with this difference only, that the former are done in the sight of the audience, and the latter wrought up to such a height upon the stage, that they are almost put in execution before the actors can get behind the scenes.
I would not have it thought, that there is just ground for those consequences which our enemies draw against us from these practices; but methinks one would be sorry for any manner of occasion for such misrepresentations of us. The virtues of tenderness, compassion, and humanity, are those by which men are distinguished from brutes, as much as by reason itself; and it would be the greatest reproach to a nation, to distinguish itself from all others by any defect in these particular virtues. For which reasons, I hope that my dear countrymen will no longer expose themselves by an effusion of blood, whether it be of theatrical heroes, cocks, or any other innocent animals, which we are not obliged to slaughter for our safety, convenience, or nourishment. When any of these ends are not served in the destruction of a living creature, I cannot bat pronounce it a great piece of cruelty, if not a kind of murder.
The great points which these free-thinkers endeavoured to establish and inculcate into the minds of men, were, the formation of the universe, the superintendency of providence, the perfection of the Divine Nature, the immortality of the soul, and the future state of rewards and punishments. They all complied with the religion of their country, as much as possible, in such particulars as did not contradict and pervert these great and fundamental doctrines of mankind. On the contrary, the persons who now set up for free-thinkers, are such as endeavour, by a little trash of words and sophistry, to weaken and destroy those very principles, for the vindication of which, freedom of thought at first became laudable and heroic. These apostates from reason and good sense, can look at the glorious frame of nature, without paying an adoration to Him that raised it; can consider the great revolutions in the universe, without lifting up their minds to that superior power which hath the direction of it; can presume to censure the Deity in his ways towards men; can level mankind with the beasts that perish; can extinguish in their own minds all the pleasing hopes of a future state, and lull themselves into a stupid security If one were to take against the terrors of it. the word priestcraft out of the mouths of these shallow monsters, they would be immediately struck dumb. It is by the help of this single term that they endeavour to disappoint the good works of the most learned and venerable order of men, and harden the hearts of the ignorant against the very light of nature, and the common-received notions of mankind. We ought not to treat such miscreants as these upon the foot of fair disputants; but to pour out contempt upon them, and speak of them with scorn and infamy, as the pests of society, the revilers of human nature, and the blasphemers of a Being, whom a good man would rather die than hear dishonoured. Cicero, after having mentioned the great heroes of knowledge that recommended this divine doctrine of the immortality of the soul, calls those small pretenders to wisdom, who declared against it, certain minute philosophers, using a diminutive even of the word little, to express the despicable opinion he had of them. The contempt he throws upon them in another passage is yet more remarkable; where, to show the mean thoughts he entertains of them, he declares he would rather be in the wrong with Plato, than in the right with such com pany.' There is, indeed, nothing in the world so ridiculous as one of these grave philosophical
No. 135.] Saturday, February 18, 1709-10.
Quod si in hoc erro, quod animos hominum inmortales esse credam, libenter erro; nec mihi hunc errorem, quo delector, dum vivo, extorqueri volo: sin mortuus, ut qui
dam minuti philosophi censent, nihil sentiam; non vereor, ne hunc errorem meum mortui philosophi irrideant. Cicero, De Senect. cap. ult. Ed Verburgii, Vol. X.
But if I err in believing that the souls of men are immortal, I willingly err; nor while I live would I wish to have this delightful error extorted from me; and if after death I shall feel nothing, as some minute philosophers think, I am not afraid lest dead philosophers should laugh
at me for the error.
Sheer-lane, February 1′′.
SEVERAL letters, which I have lately received, give me information, that some welldisposed persons have taken offence at my using the word Free-thinker as a term of reproach. To set, therefore, this matter in a clear light, I must declare, that no one can have a greater veneration than myself for the Free-thinkers of antiquity; who acted the same part in those times, as the great men of the reformation did in several nations of Europe, by exerting themselves against the idolatry and superstition of the times in which they lived. It was by this noble impulse that Socrates and
I would not have persecution so far disgraced, as to wish these vermin might be ani
free-thinkers, that hath neither passions nor might not run away with it; and, to do further
When I was a young man about this town, frequented the ordinary of the Black-horse in Holborn, where the person that usually presided at the table was a rough old-fashioned gentleman, who, according to the customs of those times, had been the major and preacher of a regiment. It happened one day that a noisy young officer, bred in France, was venting some new-fangled notions, and speaking, in the gayety of his humour, against the dispensations of Providence. The major, at first, only desired him to talk more respectfully of one for whom all the company had an honour; but, finding him run on in his extravagance, began to reprimand him after a more serious manner. Young man,' said he, do not abuse your Benefactor whilst you are eating his bread. Consider whose air you breathe, whose presence you are in, and who it is that gave you the power of that very speech which you make use of to his dishonour.' The young fellow, who thought to turn matters into a jest, asked him if he was going to preach?' but at the same time desired him, to take care what he said when he spoke to a man of honour.' 'A man of honour!' says the major; thou art an infidel and a blasphemer, and I shall use
I would fain ask a minute philosopher, what good he proposes to mankind by the publishing of his doctrines? Will they make a man a better citizen, or father of a family; a more endearing husband, friend, or son? will they enlarge his public or private virtues, or correct any of his frailties or vices? What is there either joyful or glorious in such opinions? do they either refresh or enlarge our thoughts? do they contribute to the happiness, or raise the dignity, of human nature? The only good that I have ever heard pretended to, is, that they banish terrors, and set the mind at ease. But whose terrors do they banish? It is certain, if there were any strength in their arguments, they would give great disturbance to minds that are influenced by virtue, honour, and morality, and take from us the only comforts and supports of affliction, sickness, and old age. The minds, therefore, which they set at ease, are only those of impenitent criminals and malefactors, and which, not the good of mankind, should be in perpetual terror and alarm.
I must confess, nothing is more usual than for a free-thinker, in proportion as the insolence of scepticism is abated in him by years and knowledge, or humbled and beaten down by sorrow or sickness, to reconcile himself to the general conceptions of reasonable creatures; so that we frequently see the apostates turning from their revolt towards the end of their lives, and employing the refuse of their parts in promoting those truths which they had before endeavoured to invalidate.
The history of a gentleman in France is very well known, who was so zealous a promoter of infidelity, that he had got together a select ompany of disciples, and travelled into all parts of the kingdom to make converts. In the midst of his fantastical success he fell sick, and was reclaimed to such a sense of his condition, that after he had passed some time in great agonies and horrors of mind, he begged those who had the care of burying him, to dress his body in the habit of a capuchin, that the devil
merchant's wife. He no sooner thought of this adventure, but he began it by an amorous epistle to the lady, and a faithful promise to wait upon her at a certain hour the next evening, when he knew her husband was to be absent.
thee as such. In short, the quarrel ran so
The letter was no sooner received, but it was communicated to the husband, and produced no other effect in him, than that he joined with his wife to raise all the mirth they could out of this fantastical piece of gallantry. They were so little concerned at this dangerous man of mode, that they plotted ways to perplex Varnish comes exhim without hurting him. actly at his hour; and the lady's well-acted confusion at his entrance gave him opportunity to repeat some couplets very fit for the occasion with very much grace and spirit. His theamanner of making love was interrupted by an alarm of the husband's coming; and the wife, in a personated terror, beseeched him,
if he had any value for the honour of a woman that loved him, he would jump out of the window.' He did so, and fell upon featherbeds placed on purpose to receive him.
It is not to be conceived how great the joy of an amorous man is when he has suffered for his mistress, and is never the worse for it. Varnish the next day writ a most elegant billet, wherein he said all that imagination could form upon the occasion. He violently protested, 'going out of the window was no way terrible, but as it was going from her;' with several other kind expressions, which procured him a second assignation. Upon his second visit, he was conveyed by a faithful inaid into her bedchamber, and left there to expect the arrival of her mistress. But the wench, according to her instructions, ran in again to him, and locked the door after her to keep out her master. She had just time enough to convey the lover into a chest before she admitted the busband and his wife into the room.
No. 136.] Tuesday, February 21, 1709.10. Deprendi miserum est: Fabio vel judice vincam. Hor. 1. Sat. ii. ver. ult. To be surpris'd, is sure a wretched tale, And for the truth to Fabius I appeal. White's Chocolate-house, February 18. THE HISTORY OF TOM VARNISH. BECAUSE I have a professed aversion to long beginnings of stories, I will go into this at once, by telling you, that there dwells near the Royal Exchange as happy a couple as ever entered into wedlock. These live in that mutual confidence of each other, which renders the satisfaction of marriage even greater than those of friendship, and makes wife and husband the dearest appellations of human life. Mr. Balance is a merchant of good consideration, and understands the world, not from speculation, but practice. His wife is the daughter of an honest house, ever bred in a family-way; and has, from a natural good understanding, and great innocence, a freedom which men of sense know to be the certain sign of virtue, and fools take to be an encouragement to vice. Tom Varnish, a young gentleman of the Middle Temple, by the bounty of a good fa-bed-chamber without molestation. The mornther, who was so obliging as to die, and leave ing arose, but our lover was not well situated him, in his twenty-fourth year, besides a good to observe her blushes; so that all we know of estate, a large sum which lay in the hands of his sentiments on this occasion is, that he heard Mr. Balance, had by this means an intimacy Balance ask for the key, and say, be would at his house; and, being one of those hard himself go with this chest, and have it opened students who read plays for the improvement before the captain of the ship, for the greater in the law, took his rules of life from thence. safety of so valuable a lading.' Upon mature deliberation, he conceived it very proper, that he, as a man of wit and pleasure of the town, should have an intrigue with his
You may be sure that trunk was absolutely necessary to be opened; but upon her husband's ordering it, she assured him, she had taken all the care imaginable in packing up the things with her own hands, and he might send the trunk abroad as soon as he thought fit.' The easy husband believed his wife, and the good couple went to bed; Varnish having the happiness to pass the night in his mistress's
The goods were hoisted away; and Mr. Balance, marching by his chest with great care and diligence, omitted nothing that might give